Peach Dumplings


These peach dumplings taste like a fresh peach pie, but are easier to serve. There’s no slicing – just spoon the desired number of little peach dumplings onto each plate. For added flair, garnish with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

WIN_20160109_173944Ingredients (Serves 5 – 6)

4 large peaches, quartered (frozen peach slices will work)

1 roll-out refrigerator crust (or homemade pie crust dough)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Step 1) Roll out the pie crust on a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter to divide the crust into 16 pieces. Smaller pieces can be combined and rolled out to make larger pieces; I used rectangle (mostly) shaped pieces.

WIN_20160109_174501Step 2) Wrap one piece of pie crust around each peach slice. The crust doesn’t need to go all the way around, but it’s helpful if the crust is long enough to tuck underneath each peach slice.

Step 3) Arrange crust-covered peach slices close together in a lightly greased glass pie dish or tart pan as shown. Sprinkle with WIN_20160109_184551chopped pecans.

Step 4) In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and spices. Stir over low heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined. Pour sauce evenly over peaches.

Step 5) Bake Peach Dumplings in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm.


Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart

WIN_20160105_180446This dessert falls into my favorite category… the “looks complicated, but is really easy to make” category. In just a few minutes time, you can prepare a decadent tart that looks elegant enough to serve at the end of a fancy dinner. Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart is quite rich, and will serve a few more people than a similarly sized fruit pie. A modest wedge of this tart, perhaps garnished with fresh whipped cream and served with coffee, will make a perfect finish for an evening with company. If you prefer to enjoy this Frozen Chocolate Banana Tart in your PJs on a Tuesday night, I won’t judge!

Ingredients (Serves 12)

1 roll-out pie crust (or made from scratch if you prefer)

1/2 pound dark chocolate

1/3 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons rum cream

2 ripe bananas (the yellow peels should have dark spots!)

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You


Step 1) Roll out your pie crust and use it to line a tart pan. Trim crust even with the rim of the tart pan, and poke a few holes in the pie crust with a fork (this helps to prevent air bubbles). Bake the pie crust according to the package directions, until the pie crust is light golden brown. I baked my pie crust in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Allow your baked pie crust to cool completely.

Step 2) Combine chocolate, half-and-half, and rum cream in a saucepan. Melt together over LOW heat, stirring constantly. This will only take a few minutes… be patient, and keep the heat LOW! Burned chocolate is gross.

Step 3) When chocolate is completely melted, remove saucepan from heat. Allow to cool until close to room temperature. Mixture will thicken a little, but shouldn’t solidify.

WIN_20160105_145524Step 4) Spread a very thin layer of cooled chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell. Use just enough chocolate to coat the crust.

Step 5) Slice bananas into 1/4 inch slices. Cover the chocolate on the bottom of the baked tart shell evenly with 1-2 layers of banana slices.

Step 6) Carefully pour the chocolate mixture over the banana slices. Spread chocolate so that the banana slices are completely covered; the back of a large spoon works well for this.

Step 7) Freeze the chocolate banana tart for at least two hours or overnight. Slice and serve!

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial



Peach Spoon Cake

WIN_20151214_184414This simple dessert looks like a peach cobbler but tastes more like a yellow cake with peach filling. Peaches aren’t in season? No problem – frozen peach slices will work just as well. I enjoy Peach Spoon Cake as a weeknight dessert, but it could also make a decadent treat for Sunday brunch. Enjoy!

WIN_20151214_173727Ingredients (Serves 6)

1/3 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 peaches, cut into quarters

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Step 1) Grease a 2 quart casserole dish and set aside.

Step 2) Blend together butter, sugar, almond extract, and egg. Stir in milk, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step 3) Transfer the batter to the casserole dish. Top with quartered peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Step 4) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow Peach Spoon Cake to cool before serving.

Easy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

WIN_20151118_203406So, you agreed to bake pie for the big dinner this week. You had high hopes of learning to make crust from scratch, complete with fancy edges, a lattice top, and all of the frou-frou that you saw on that gourmet food magazine. Then life intervened and you got busy. Don’t worry. Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ve got you covered!

To save time and sanity this holiday week, we’re starting with a store bought, roll-out pie crust. If you’re feeling obligated to make a scratch crust, that’s cool – click on the link above and we’ll walk you through it. But seriously, nobody is going to shun this awesome Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie because you skipped a few steps with the roll-out crust. I doubt they’ll even know the difference.

Let’s get started!


1 roll-out pie crust

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

1 cup (8 oz) evaporated milk

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt


Step 1) Roll pie crust into a glass pie pan. This is easiest when the pie crust has been allowed to rest on a counter top for about 10 minutes before unrolling. If you try to unroll the pie crust right from the fridge, it will crack. If you let it get too warm, it will stick. 10 minutes is just about right!

Step 2) Trim the pie crust even with the edge of the pie pan. Cut little shapes out of the scraps if you wish, to use as a garnish.

Step 3) Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread mixture on bottom of pie crust as shown.

Step 4) In a medium size mixing bowl, beat eggs and pumpkin. Add sugar, spices, and salt. Finally, add evaporated milk a little at a time until fully incorporated.

WIN_20151118_185524Step 5) Pour pumpkin mixture carefully into your pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking for 40 minutes.

Step 6) If using small crust shapes as a garnish, set small crust shapes on a baking sheet and place in the oven for the final 10 minutes of pie baking time. Place baked crust shapes on top of the baked pie.



Chocolate Banana Bread

WIN_20151030_185933This Chocolate Banana Bread is absolutely luscious. Dense and full flavored, this bread works equally well as a breakfast food and a dessert. The trick is to use very ripe bananas. If the skins aren’t black, wait another day or two. Any green on the skin? Don’t even think about it – even a speck of green means that your bananas aren’t ripe at all, let alone ripe enough for this recipe. Patience, friends. Patience.

WIN_20151030_173516Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves, approximately 12 slices per loaf)

4 very ripe bananas (skins should be black)

2 eggs

1/2 cup cooking oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 small (3.9 oz) packages instant chocolate pudding

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

1/4 cup milk


Step 1) Grease and flour two loaf pans. Set aside.

Step 2) Use a pastry cutter or two forks to thoroughly mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, sugar, and almond extract. Mix well.

Step 3) Stir in chocolate pudding mix, baking powder, salt, and flour. Mixture will be very stiff.

Step 4) Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until chocolate banana bread mixture spreads easily with your mixing spoon (more like brownie batter, less like cookie dough). I added a total of 4 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup of milk. You may need a bit more or less, depending upon the size and ripeness of the bananas you used.

Step 5) Spread chocolate banana bread batter into loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Step 6) Cool loaves on a wire rack and enjoy!


Fun Variation: Feeling creative? Try experimenting with pudding mix in other flavors. You might try vanilla pudding mix with vanilla extract instead of the almond extract. Or, you might try pistachio pudding with a few coarsely chopped pistachio nuts sprinkled onto the top of each loaf just before baking. If you try a variation on this Chocolate Banana Bread recipe, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy baking!


Derrick’s Orange Hazelnut Biscotti


See recipe below!

“‘I know I’m not family, but Madeleine is my best friend. I love her like a sister. I flew halfway around the world, overnight, when she called. When I say she won’t be alone, I mean that. I will do anything and everything I can to help her adjust. I promise you that…’ Derrick set out a plate of his signature homemade orange hazelnut biscotti and poured Madeleine a scant half glass of wine. She breathed in the heady aroma and tasted the tiniest sip, intent on making her two ounce pour last as long as possible.”

How to Bake a Chocolate Souffle Blue Cover~Excerpt from Carly Ellen Kramer’s food fiction novel, How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé

Available at in paperback and Kindle format.

Author signed copies (no extra charge) are also available right here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards


Cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest. Add 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Mix well.

Shape dough into two rectangles, approximately 9×4 inches. Bake on a parchment lined pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cut rectangles on a slight diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices cut side down on a parchment lined pan and return to the 350 degree oven for another 15 minutes.

After biscotti have cooled, drizzle with an icing made from 1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons orange juice. Garnish with coarsely chopped hazelnuts.

Candy Corn Campfires

WIN_20150926_153844These adorable treats are lightning fast to prepare – perfect for your next backyard bonfire or just a cozy evening by the fireplace. Happy Halloween!


1 bag of thin pretzel sticks

1 bag of butterscotch baking chips

1 small bag of candy corn


WIN_20150926_140918Melt 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until chips are fully melted. Arrange six pretzel sticks per campfire as shown, “gluing” pairs of pretzel sticks together using a bit of the melted butterscotch. Allow assembled pretzel sticks to set for a few minutes, giving the butterscotch a chance to harden. Finally, use melted butterscotch to glue two or three candy corn “flames” to each campfire. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Tarts

WIN_20150831_184305Last month we shared a quick and easy recipe for Apple Pecan Tarts, and readers loved them. So did Half Pint! While snacking on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Half Pint declared, “I have a great idea! How about if we make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but pies instead?”

OK. Here we go. Let me know what you think!

WIN_20150827_093203Ingredients (Makes 32 mini tarts)

1 package of roll-out refrigerated pie crust

1/2 cup of crushed peanuts

1 cup of creamy peanut butter

1 cup of grape jelly


Step 1) Open the package of roll-out refrigerated pie crusts (there are two crusts per package). Instead of rolling them out, squish each crust into a big ball of dough. How fun!

WIN_20150827_093857Step 2) Place a small ball of pie crust dough, about the size of a golf ball, in each well of a mini muffin pan. Push the dough down in the center so that it flattens on the bottom and up the sides of the well. You can use a tart press (shown), a medicine cup, or just your fingers for this.

The Pampered Chef Mini Tart Shaper 1590

Wilton Recipe Right 24 Cup Mini Muffin Pan

Step 3) Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of crushed peanuts inside of each tart crust. Gently spoon peanut butter and jelly into each tart crust, leaving 1/4 inch of empty space at the top of each tart.

WIN_20150831_181239Step 4) Bake tarts in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Step 5) Using a butter knife and/or a teaspoon (not your fingers!), remove the tarts from the mini muffin pan while they are still warm. Cool on a wire rack. These tarts freeze well for packing in school lunches!

Peach Cobbler

WIN_20150906_194452The season for fresh peaches is long this year. I don’t know why peaches are still available (and at low prices!) over Labor Day weekend, but I’m sure not complaining! Instead, I’m making peach cobbler. This recipe was inspired by Toni Blake’s blackberry cobbler recipe, and is just delightful. Toni Blake is one of my favorite authors, and wrote her blackberry cobbler recipe into her heartwarming Destiny book series.

If you’ve made fruit cobblers before, you might find it strange that the fruit goes on TOP of the batter in this recipe. Don’t worry. The fruit will sink, and the batter will rise. and everything will end up in the right place!

WIN_20150906_183231Ingredients (Makes a 9″ x 13″ pan)

1/2 cup butter

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups milk

WIN_20150906_1812161/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 fresh peaches, diced


Step 1) Begin preheating oven to 350 degrees. While oven preheats, place 1/2 WIN_20150906_181326cup butter (1 stick) in a 9″x13″ pan. Place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter.

Step 2) While butter is melting, stir together all remaining ingredients except peaches.

Step 3) Remove pan from oven, and pour batter on top of melted butter. Sprinkle WIN_20150906_181453diced peaches evenly over the top of everything.

Step 4) Bake cobbler in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Share with friends!WIN_20150906_192334

Chocolate Raspberry Waffle Cone Cannoli

WIN_20150713_195927Here’s a super easy, amazingly delicious way to incorporate summertime raspberries into dessert! Preparing this dessert takes only a few minutes, allowing you to hurry back outside to catch every precious ray of sunshine before the snow falls again!

WIN_20150713_192328Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 waffle cones

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon triple sec

grated zest from 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup fresh raspberries


Step 1) Blend together ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, triple sec, and lemon zest.

Step 2) Using the back of a teaspoon, spread ricotta filling along the insides of the waffle cones.

Step 3) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top of filling.

Step 4) Fill each cone with 1/4 cup fresh raspberries and serve immediately!


Rustic Apple Cake

WIN_20150601_195318Have you ever bought a boxed apple cake mix – the kind where you add an egg and a chopped apple to the mix, and the whole thing turns out pretty darn well? This is, essentially, that cake. Instead of taking 30 seconds to prepare, this will take you five whole minutes (gasp!). For five minutes of effort, you’ll save a few dollars and avoid a few preservatives.

Note: there’s no need to peel the apples for this recipe. I recommend using one red apple and one green apple, for a fun splash of color. A warm slice of this cake makes a lovely dessert, but also makes a pretty fancy breakfast with a big mug of coffee. Sigh. Now I’m hungry!

WIN_20150507_171955Ingredients (Makes a 9 inch round pan)

1 egg

1 1/4 cup sugar, divided (see directions below)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

WIN_20150507_1726441 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 cup milk

2 medium apples, chopped

WIN_20150601_1620381/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Step 1) Cream together butter, 2/3 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.

Step 2) Add flour, salt, and baking powder alternately with the milk (add half the dry ingredients, half the milk, the other half of the dry ingredients, and the other half of the milk).

Step 3) Spread batter into a greased, 9 inch round baking dish (a deep dish pie plate works well).

Step 4) Mix 1/4 cup sugar with the chopped apples, and sprinkle sugared apples over batter.

Step 5) Mix 1/3 cup sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top of everything.

Step 6) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean.

Ice Cream Cone Cookies

WIN_20150529_123126Chocolate sugar cookies frosted (generously!) with vanilla orange frosting and dressed in their summertime best with festive sprinkles. What’s not to love? Half Pint and Pickle in the Middle actually giggled with joy when they discovered these cookies in the kitchen. Half Grown is too big to giggle over a cookie, but not too big to devour them with a (half hidden) smile.

These cookies freeze well, so tuck this recipe away for a bit of rainy day summertime fun. Make a double batch, and freeze them to bring along on your next picnic!

WIN_20150529_102152Ingredients (Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

For the cookies:

2/3 cup softened butter

1 egg

3/4 cup sugar

WIN_20150529_1033181 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon rum (or vanilla extract)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

WIN_20150529_115516For the frosting:

1/3 cup softened butter

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



Step 1) Cream together butter, egg, sugar, cocoa powder, and rum. Mix in flour and baking powder. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Step 2) On a floured surface, roll cookie dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into ice cream cone shapes with a cookie cutter. Carefully transfer cookie cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Step 3) Press a meat tenderizer very gently into the cone portion of each ice cream cone cookie cutout. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, you could make a criss-cross pattern with the tines of a fork.

Step 4) Bake cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are slightly browned. Leave cookies on the baking sheet and allow to cool completely.

Step 5) Combine butter, confectioner’s sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on a low speed until frosting is well combined. If frosting is too thick, add a bit more orange juice. If frosting is too thin, add a bit more confectioner’s sugar.

Step 6) Cut the corner off of a sandwich bag, and add about 1 cup of frosting to the bag. Use this homemade pastry bag to squeeze frosting onto the ice cream portion of each cookie. Begin by outlining the shape of a scoop of ice cream (don’t forget the drips – see photo above). Then, squeeze frosting generously inside of the outline.

Step 7) Top each “scoop of ice cream” with sprinkles. Enjoy!

Caramel Blondies


“Can we make brownies, but not the brown kind?” Half-Pint eagerly asked.

“I like the brown kind. Let’s make the brown kind!” Pickle-in-the-Middle countered.

And so I ended up with two sets of eyes looking up at me, waiting for me to pick a favorite (dessert or child… I’m not entirely sure which!).  Think fast, Mom, think fast…

Enter Caramel Blondies. Blonde “brownies,” lacking cocoa, would surely meet one child’s request for “not the brown kind” of brownies. Rich caramel swirls would be delicious, I imagined – and brown. We gave it a go, and the results were spot-on wonderful the very first try. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

WIN_20150504_181015Ingredients (Makes a 9 inch round pan)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon milk

WIN_20150504_1824581 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup melted caramel or Dulce de Leche


WIN_20150504_182608Step 1) Melt butter and brown sugar together in a medium (not small) saucepan, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Step 2) Add egg and milk to the cooled saucepan; blend well.

Step 3) Add flour, baking powder, and WIN_20150504_182749baking soda to the saucepan and stir to combine all ingredients. Batter will be stiff.

Step 4) Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to a greased, 9 inch round tart pan or pie dish.

Step 5) Use a teaspoon to drop dots of melted caramel or Dulce de Leche onto the WIN_20150504_185517batter. Use a butter knife to “draw lines” through the caramel in several directions.

Step 6) Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the blonde batter (NOT the caramel) comes out clean. Small wedges of this dessert are wonderful served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Medley of Fudge

WIN_20150515_190501We’re back! Crowded Earth Kitchen celebrated the end of Exam Week by taking a hiatus. We loaded Half Pint, Pickle in the Middle, and Half Grown into the kidmobile and headed “up North” to the land of waterslides, miniature golf courses, restaurants with paper moose antler hats (seriously), ice cream parlors, and fudge shops. The kids arrived back home sleep deprived, over sugared, and smelling faintly of chlorine. In other words, they had a great time.

But about the fudge… what is it about family tourist destinations and fudge shops? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one without the other. It’s not like fudge is ever on my grocery list, but on kid-centered vacations, stopping for fudge is an absolute must.

Clockwise from the top in the photo above, we sampled root beer fudge, Heath bar fudge, classic chocolate fudge, and milk chocolate vanilla swirl fudge. Which of these treats would you like to see recreated at Crowded Earth Kitchen? Post a comment with your favorite and I’ll work on a recipe for you!

Lavender Vanilla Meringues

WIN_20150509_204230Where I live, Mother Nature can’t quite make up her mind… it’s warm and sunny one day, cold and windy the next. I may have to be patient for summer weather, but there’s no need to be patient waiting for summer flavors! These meringue cookies are light and airy, with a burst of lavender flavor. If sunshine had a taste, this might be it.

WIN_20150509_191617Ingredients (makes 48 meringues)

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 drops red food coloring

1 drop blue food coloring

1 teaspoon dried lavender

1 cup white sugar


Step 1) In  scrupulously clean bowl, beat egg whites, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes until soft peaks form.  It’s OK if the peaks fall over at this point, when you lift the beater out of the mixture.

Step 2)  Add food coloring, lavender, and WIN_20150509_193617sugar – a little at a time – to egg white mixture.  Beat at high speed for 3 – 5 minutes until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.  When you lift the beater out of the mixture now, the peaks should stand up straight.

Step 3)  Drop tablespoonsful of the meringue mixture onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving 1 – 2 inches between meringues.  Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Cool on a cooking rack and Enjoy!